Low Libido? Here’s Why You Aren’t in the Mood
You love your partner, but your low libido is causing problems. Between late nights, early mornings, work stress, family obligations, and a million other balls in the air, there is little time and energy left for sex. Relationships change, and sex drive softens as we age… so, it’s perfectly normal, right?
Not necessarily. In fact, some reports suggest that our best love-making years are the ones that may lie ahead of us. A recent survey of 5,000 singles of all ages, ethnicities and income levels across the U.S. revealed that the best sex happens at age 66 for women and at 64 for men. It is at this time that our youthful self-consciousness wears off, communication becomes more comfortable, and greater creativity is embraced. So, if others are having the best sex of their lives as they grow older, perhaps it’s worth considering why you’re not interested in sex at all?
What Causes Low Libido?
There are multiple causes of low libido. These may be physical, cultural, emotional, medical, psychological or due to your relationship with your partner. Some common causes of low libido include:
- Sleep apnea or lack of sleep
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Physical issues
One of the biggest influences on libido is our hormones. Hormones affect so many different parts of your body that when one such chemical is out of sync, it can cause a nasty mix of symptoms in many areas. Hormones that specifically have an impact on libido include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Estrogen & Progesterone
When our bodies slow down on progesterone production, it can lead to an estrogen dominance, which causes low libido in women. This can happen naturally during perimenopause, or it can also be brought on by stress, poor diet, and sluggish liver detoxification of estrogen.
Symptoms of a progesterone deficiency can include decreased clitoral sensitivity, vaginal dryness, loss of vaginal muscle tension, as well as more general mood killers like fatigue, weight gain, headaches, and depression. Interestingly, a lack of estrogen can also cause similar symptoms. If any combination of these issues sounds familiar to you, it might be your hormones blocking your path to pleasure. We can help sort them out.
If you’ve always thought testosterone was only important for men, think again. Reduced testosterone levels can have an impact on libido for both sexes.
In women, testosterone is what gives orgasms their oomph, heightening the sexual experience. As you can imagine, low testosterone is going to have the opposite effect, reducing sexual desire and satisfaction. Low testosterone levels in women can also result in lethargy, depression, and muscle weakness. In post-menopausal years, reduced ovarian function and adrenal fatigue can reduce the amount of testosterone a woman produces.
Meanwhile, testosterone levels in men gradually decline with age. Testosterone deficiency in men not only diminishes libido and cause erectile dysfunction, but it can also result in a wide range of other symptoms including anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, poor memory, and reduced muscle and bone mass. Low testosterone levels can now be found in men of all ages. Environmental pollutants, like BPA from plastics, that behave like estrogen can disrupt the normal production of testosterone. Helping your liver with efficient removal of these toxins may help restore normal testosterone levels and libido.
Another one of the reasons people often associate a low libido with aging is due to the decrease in energy that comes with getting older. The same could be said about life after kids. As we age or when we become parents, our sleep patterns are interrupted with more frequent awakenings. If you’re going to bed exhausted at the end of the day or waking up tired, the last thing on your mind is intimacy with your partner.
And as mentioned before, fatigue and lethargy can also be a result of hormonal imbalances in women. You see, when it comes to our bodies, everything is connected, which is why it is so important to think of our health as a whole and not in separate parts. In order for us to get better, we need to identify and treat the cause, not the symptoms.
Having an underactive thyroid can contribute to low energy and low libido. Think of your thyroid like the gas pedal for your body. It regulates the speed that all of your systems run. If it is sluggish, everything slows down, which leads to lower energy, weight gain and low libido because the reproductive organs may produce lower hormone levels.
Lack of sleep
The libido-crushing effects of a poor-quality sleep do not only impact seniors and parents, but feeling sleepy and irritable can happen to the best of us. Those who suffer from insomnia, irregular sleep patterns, who short-change ourselves on sleep or have sleep apnea may also relate.
In one study, sleep apnea was shown to have an impact on testosterone levels in men, which would then lead to lower sex drive.
Stress can negatively impact sex drive by throwing your hormone balance out of whack. When we’re running at top speed on life’s hamster wheel, we produce an excess of cortisol – our stress hormone. The spike in our cortisol levels can then end up blocking our progesterone receptors. Your body may also deplete your progesterone to turn it into cortisol. The irony is that sex can usually be a huge stress buster. If stress or other emotional factors are killing your sex drive, it may be worth a consult with our resident psychotherapist, Ichih Wang.
Lack of physical activity negatively impacts mood, decreases your energy and endurance, lowers your self-esteem and negatively impacts hormone balance.
There are a number of health concerns that may make intercourse uncomfortable or painful. As a result, there is a negative association with intimacy and a natural aversion to it. Vulvodynia, endometriosis, menopause, vaginismus, chronic yeast/BV or recurring bladder infections can all lead to low libido. Our naturopathic doctors can help address and relieve all of these issues.
Natural Treatments for a Low Libido
Our bodies are constantly changing, and the longer we ignore symptoms, the more out of balance we can get. When it comes to conditions brought on by our hormones, there is no reason why we have to “learn to live with it”. Start by getting your hormone levels tested properly in order to identify if an imbalance might be at play. Natural hormone replacement options exist and can help get you back on track to feeling like yourself again. Blood work to assess hormones related to libido should include tests for LH, FSH, estradiol (done on day 3 of your period for women), total testosterone, DHEAs, prolactin, TSH, free T3, free T4, and day 21 progesterone for women.
Sure, “mindfulness” might sound like a cure-all buzzword, but there is a lot of truth to its power. Mindfulness, whether practised through meditation, yoga or other means, helps us to reduce stress. When we reduce stress, we lower our cortisol levels. And as we already know, when our cortisol levels spike, it has a way of messing a lot of things up inside our bodies.
A moment of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By starting each morning with a few minutes alone in quiet reflection, we can set the stage for a better day, and more easily ground ourselves when life begins to get busy. Let’s not forget that a more mindful day can also help lead to a more restful night. According to the Journal of Sex and Medicine, getting just one more hour of sleep per night could increase your libido by 14 per cent. So it’s important not to skip sleep for a healthy libido.
These are just a couple of the many options to help address low libido in men and women. There are several others. Our Naturopathic Doctors can guide you as to the right herb and the right dose for you.
Have you heard of Maca before? This interesting Peruvian plant has become a popular natural aphrodisiac and fertility booster, reputed to boost sex drive in both women and men. In one study, men reported heightened sexual desire after taking Maca for 8 weeks. In another study, men and women who took 3g of Maca daily reported an increase in libido, normally diminished by their prescribed antidepressants.
This pretty little herb has been proven to safely and effectively improve some sexual problems in women, including arousal, lubrication, and pain. Saffron has shown a positive effect on men with erectile dysfunction as well. In one study, men who took a 200mg tablet of saffron for only ten days showed an increased number and duration of erectile events.
An extract from fenugreek has been shown to be effective at increasing libido in women after 8 weeks of taking a standardized 600 mg dose. Treatment caused an increase in free testosterone and estradiol, accounting for the increase in libido.
Tasty, refreshing, and full of libido-boosting phytonutrients, a juicy slice of watermelon isn’t just nice to share on a romantic picnic. It also contains various beneficial compounds that have been shown to relax blood vessels and enhance your sex drive.
Yoga has been studied and found to be as effective as medication in helping with male sexual dysfunction.
Being physically active benefits sex drive through several different mechanisms:
- Exercise is one of the best stress reducers there is.
- Physical activity can enhance hormone levels.
- Even one bout of physical activity can enhance your self-esteem and body image. Feeling good about your body is a good way to bolster libido.
Make time for even 15 minutes per day of physical activity to reap the libido-boosting benefits of exercise.
Are you worried that you’ve lost your mojo? Fear not. We can help you get it back. If you have been experiencing a low sex drive or suspect imbalanced hormones might be at play in other areas of your life, please do not hesitate to contact us at 416-481-0222 or email Info@ForcesofNature.ca. We can help rebalance your system naturally. A low libido can affect your enjoyment of life and your relationships. There is no reason you should have to settle for less.
The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic